We have all witnessed a significant change in the way Arsenal played in our two most recent games against Bayern and Swansea. Arsenal have played more compact and conservative, and we are playing not too dissimilar from the way we did during the first few games of the season.
Our full-backs are not bombing forwards as much anymore, and usually only one commits himself forward at any given time. Defence and midfield play closer together and move more up and down the pitch as a ‘double-bank’; and we also don’t play with a high defensive line as much as we used to do. Our two DMs stay closer together and operate more as a horizontal unit in front of the back four, and don’t often allow themselves anymore to get stretched vertically in midfield.
It now looks like we regularly have two sections in the team: ‘the back-seven’ and the ‘front-four’. The former makes us more solid and organised in terms of protecting our goal, and the latter is left with the task to somehow create chances and score goals.
During our first four games, we proved to be very solid at the back but we also did not create enough chances/ scored enough goals. It looked like Bould – who apparently had been given the task to make us defend better – had made us very solid at the back, but at the expense of our attacking endeavours, as well as our style of football to some extent.
Although Arsenal were not playing badly, especially if you take into account the large number of changes in personnel within the first team, but we were not scoring enough goals; leading to too many draws and us dropping too many points in the process.
I reckon Wenger changed our style of play by making the second DM play in a more advanced midfield position, in order to support our attack better: instead of a unit of seven and a unit of four, we played more with a unit of six at the back and a unit of five up-front. On top of that our FB’s were encouraged to constantly support our attackers and even one of CB’s was asked to join our attacking efforts.
We started to create more chances and score more goals, but gradually we also became weaker at the back and began to leak more goals; especially, and bizarrely, at home. Wengerball was not working very well, as we often gave games away during the first halves of our matches, whilst not being able to produce enough goals to compensate for this; despite some gutsy and productive second half performances.
Now that we are out of all cup-competitions and we still have a good chance to make it into the top-four, Wenger and Bould seem to have changed tactics again. I reckon Arsenal will be set up very similar to how we played against Bayern and Swansea for the rest of the season.
I reckon Bould will be most pleased with this, but Wenger will see it also as the best way of getting into the top-four this season. It won’t be pretty at times, and there is still a risk we will not score enough goals to get all three points from all our remaining games, but it is our best chance to get back into the CL again next season.
Wenger-ball will be kept on hold and I am sure Arsene and Bould will have another go next season, but for now it is the Bould-dozer that rules.
I reckon the next nine games will be an important building period for the team; as in becoming more solid and learning to defend and attack as team. Then come the summer, Arsene and Bould can get a couple of quality additions to tweak the team to the next level.
Written by: Total Arsenal.